What to watch at Cannes

From Cronenberg's Maps to the new Saint Laurent, here are the hotly tipped heavyweights and up-and-comers at Cannes

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Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska in Maps to the Stars Courtesy of Le Pacte

THE ESTABLISHED ACTS

MAPS TO THE STARS

Canadian director David Cronenberg has already participated in Cannes’ competition four times with Crash, Spider, A History of Violence and Cosmopolis – without winning the Palme d’Or… This time, he’s coming back with a satire of the entertainment industry involving ghosts, Robert Pattinson, Julianne Moore and burnt Mia Wasikowska. An intriguing, contemporary and possibly crushing plot that could charm Mrs President, aka Jane Campion, who will head up the jury.

Part of the Official Competition category

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

It seems almost too easy for Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne to make it to the Croisette: Two Days, One Night is their sixth film to compete at Cannes and they’ve already won the Palme d’Or twice – first for 1999’s Rosetta and then for 2005’s L’enfant. Now they gamble on Marion Cotillard to bring them good luck on one of the most contemporary themes ever: the economic crisis. Together with her husband Fabrizio Rongione, the French siren tries to convince her colleagues to renounce their annual bonuses in order for her to keep her job.

Part of the Official Competition category

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Still from "Deux Jours, Une Nuit"

LOST RIVER

Ryan Gosling's writing-directing debut was even more appealing under its working title: How to Catch a Monster. In this “Detroit-shot fantasy-drama” starring Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan and Eva Mendes, a family will discover a route to an underwater city. An essential to watch, if only to determine where we most prefer Gosling: in front of or behind the camera.

Part of the Un Certain Regard category

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Still from "Lost River" via totalfilm.com

IT FOLLOWS

Another coming-of-age story, but with a monster involved. It Follows, by American director David Robert Mitchell, is a nightmare about “sex, love and the unseen horrors that follow us”. Another cult movie? He's already attended the Critic’s Week in 2010 with the now cult The Myth of the American Sleepover. So all bets are off.

Part of the Critics' Week category

THE RISING STARS

MOMMY

He’s only 25 but cracked the competition with his fifth feature. Xavier Dolan, the Québecois wunderkind took his first steps at the Director’s fortnight with his 2009 debut, J'ai tué ma mère, then entered Un Certain Regard with Heartbeats and Laurence Anyways. Far from his last film, Hitchcockian thriller Tom at the Farm, which premiered in Venice, Mommy is a family drama. The story follows a mother (played by his muse Anne Dorval) who has to take care of a troubled teenager (Antoine-Olivier Pilon).

Part of the Official Competition category

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Still from "Mommy" via blogs.indiewire.com

PARTY GIRL

Last year it was Sofia Coppola who had the honour to open Un Certain Regard with The Bling Ring. This year, no bling at all, but an impressive and courageous debut by three young co-helmers, Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis. The “Party Girl” is Angélique, a 60-year-old nightclub hostess who finally decides to settle down by marrying Michel, her most regular client. But is she really ready to accept that the party is definitely over? A gripping family drama that sounds perfectly right for a good reason: the main parts are played by one of the director’s mother and siblings.

Part of the Un Certain Regard category

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Still from "Party Girl" via screendaily.com

ELEANOR RIGBY

With its title that sounds like an homage to the Beatles, Ned Benson’s Eleanor Rigby could also be rebaptized The Marriage Plot since as Eugenides’ brilliant last novel, the writer-director will raise the challenge of telling one of the oldest stories in the world: the dissolution of a marriage. We follow the daily life of two recently married New Yorkers, Connor and Eleanor (James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain), who unfortunately lost a child. The film is divided into Him and Her movies, alternately focusing on their two very differing perspectives: to forgot their common pain, he spends his days working in a restaurant while she returns to college for further education… A very ambitious first feature.

Part of the Un Certain Regard category

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Still from "Eleanor Rigby" via indiewire.com

SNOW IN PARADISE

This Kickstarter-funded debut feature by editor-turned-director Andrew Hulme is an astonishing and uncommon gangster film set in London’s East End. This UK’s answer to A Prophet will be one of Cannes’ sensations thanks to the amazing lead actor, Frederick Schmidt, who plays Dave, a petty criminal who will eventually seek redemption through Islam. Schmidt was spotted by one of Hulme’s scouts outside the shop where he just had an argument with his boss. His first role, but obviously not the last.

Part of the Un Certain Regard category

THE ARTHOUSE VANGUARD

SAINT LAURENT

It’s because he gorgeously undressed young prostitutes in the dawning of the 20th century in House of tolerance that Bertrand Bonello attended the 2011 Cannes film festival. Now it’s his ability to put French actor Gaspard Ulliel in Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo that brings him back to the official Competition. Cannes’ most glamorous entry, also featuring Léa Seydoux and Louis Garrel. Not to be confused with Jalil Lespert’s boring “Yves Saint Laurent” the other recent biopic of the very cult French fashion designer.

Part of the Official Competition category

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Poster for "Saint Laurent" via cdn-premiere.ladmedia.fr

THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER

Hard to convert a try after such critically acclaimed debuts like The Policeman. But Nadav Lapid’s second feature is even more impressive and powerful. The film centers on an educator who discovers that one of her schoolboy is a true genius of poetry but has to face the fact that there’s little room left for poetry in our world.

Part of the Critics' Week category

CATCH ME DADDY

We knew Daniel Wolfe for his exciting music video: Plan B’s double-platinum album The Defamation of Strickland Banks or his video for The Shoes’ Time to Dance starring Jake Gyllenhaal, that immediately became a YouTube sensation, clocking up half a million hits in just two days. Catch me Daddy is Wolfe’s debut feature, a “visceral thriller” about Laila and Aaron, a couple on the run in the badlands of West Yorkshire. Newcomer Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, who plays Laila, is the true heroin of this very dark story, which seems like an interesting overturn of the thriller genre.

Part of the Directors' Fortnight category

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

LE MERAVIGLIE

(Alice Rohrwacher, Italy-Switzerland-Germany)

One of two female directors in competition this year, Italian writer-director Alice Rohrwacher delivers a very personal second feature after her beautiful 2011 Directors’ Fortnight entry, Corpo celesteLe Meraviglie (“The Wonders”) is the coming of age story of Gelsomina, a 14-year-old girl who lives a secluded existence in the Umbrian countryside, with her parents, sisters and animals, until the arrival of Martin, a young German ex-con. Don’t miss one of the most remarkable new voices from Italy.

Part of the Official Competition category

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Poster for "Le Meraviglie" via fast.swide.com

TOURIST

Every film by Rüben Östlund (director of Play) is an irresistible lampoon and his fourth feature, is no exception to the rule. Set in a French ski resort, Tourist observes how tensions unfold in a family after the father tried to save his skin, and his skin only, during an avalanche that fortunately didn’t injure anyone. Last January at the Gothenburg film festival, the Swede who used to direct skiing film confessed that his “secret goal” was “to shoot the most impressive avalanche scene in the history of avalanche scenes”. We saw it and can confirm: it worth the trip.

Part of the Un Certain Regard category

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Still from "Tourist" via piaaleborg.com

TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA

A new film produced by the Ghibli studio is always a magic event. This one by 77-year-old Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbors the Yamadas) was 8 years in the making but the result seems up to our expectations. Inspired by an old Japanese folktale, the film tells the story Kaguya, a tiny little girl found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, who decide to raise her. After having became a superb young lady, she decides to move to the grand capital city…

Part of the Directors' Fortnight category

DARKER THAN MIDNIGHT

Sweet and poetic like as a Pasolini film, Sebastiano Riso’s first feature is a coming of age story inspired by the real-life tale of one of Italy’s best-known drag queens, Fuxia, played in his young age by  a marvellous young actor, Davide Capone.

Part of the Critics' Week category

GIRLHOOD

Nothing to do with Linklater’s masterwork Boyhood, but Girlhood, by one the most glorious represent of the French new generation Céline Sciamma, will definitely be a highlight. This drama about a group of teenage rebels will complete a trilogy exploring the construction of gender, that began with her 2007 debut, Water Lilies and continued with Tomboy.

Part of the Directors' Fortnight category

DOCUMENTARIES

MAIDAN

(Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine)

Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa is a bright and incredibly demanding director (My JoyIn the Fog). He’s also a fearless documentary filmmaker, who put his camera on Kiev’s central square to explore from the ground level the protests against the regime of President Yanukovych, that started last November and never really ended. Knowing the guy, Maidan must be a powerful must-seen.

Part of the Special Screenings category

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